Roger regarded the city and the river that bled out of it from his vantage atop the bluff. Below him a scattering of brush and small trees dropped down sharply some fifty feet and then flattened out as it made its way to the river’s edge. Spring was erupting in this northwestern corner of the country and golden sun played across the water’s ripples as they made their way out to the mighty Pacific to lose themselves and merge and mingle with all the waters of the west. On the far shore, enormous white oil tanks sat stoically, oblivious to the river’s movement. The tanks glowed like burning phosphorus in the noontime sun, except for the flat, cool military chevrons in blue and red that made up the corporate logo, the familiar face of that particular buyer and seller of petroleum. Unknown gears and chains and even tiny people moved and hummed about on the platforms at the base of the tanks, performing functions and moving things from one place to another. Roger followed the progress of one of the little men. He was dressed in a bright orange jumpsuit like the kind in county jail and wore a white hardhat that made his head glow right along with the tanks themselves. The little man bent, seemed to wrench and pull on some dial or gauge of unimaginable purpose. Even from such a distance his movements betrayed his heat. The sun was high, the winter rains finally over, and all that light was reflecting off the white paint and the surface of the water.
He wants her to believe he’s not fit for the world, no matter how well she’s tried to raise him, or what tools she’s given him. God is her witness, she’s tried hard.
The only thing missing was Jesus himself—not the one in the tabernacle, but the actual guy, who they all said was coming back and would be one of us; maybe even me, Jimmy would sometimes think.
The innkeeper drugged us first with free wine, and chopped us up, one at a time, while we were asleep. I woke while he was stirring us.